The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Breaking barriers: Michael Sam

“I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate. I’m African-American, and I’m gay.”
Michael Sam shocked the football world last week when he announced he was gay in an interview with Chris Connelly on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
“I want to own my truth,” Sam said, “No one else should tell my story but me.”
The former Missouri Tiger will enter May’s 2014 National Football League (NFL) Draft with hopes of becoming the first openly gay player in NFL history.
Many draft experts predict Sam to be drafted anytime between the second and fourth rounds of the draft.
After the announcement, Sam was greeted with waves of support and bigoted hatred from many different outlets.  Everyone from Hank Aaron, Colin Kaepernick and President Barack Obama weighed on Sam’s decision to come out.
The NFL released a statement following Sam’s announcement: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Courage will be needed; for many future NFL prospects the months leading up to the NFL Draft are spent being interviewed, filmed and studied by teams who look for the smallest thing in their life or game that can make them unattractive as a future player. Historically, players with these “red flags” are skipped by many teams who do not want to deal with the distractions a certain player can bring.
Janoris Jenkins, Vontaze Burfict and Manti Te’o are examples of players with substantial talent slipping in the draft due to red flags.
During the 2013 season, Sam led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Tigers to the Cotton Bowl.
“I just want to go to the team who drafts me,” Sam said, “because that team knows about me, knows that I’m gay, and also knows that I work hard. That’s the team I want to go to.”
Michael Sam Sr. found himself the target of some backlash when he was asked about his son’s sexuality in an interview with the New York Times: “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment…I’m old-school. I’m a man and a woman type of guy.” Sam Sr. later tried to backtrack and claimed he was misquoted by the Times.
Many social media users have started referring to Michael Sam as the “gay Jackie Robinson.” Oddly enough when Sam reports for the NFL Combine (Feb. 22-25) he will have already been randomly assigned a number: 42.

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Breaking barriers: Michael Sam